Saturday, July 25, 2009

The Contender

Rod Lurie, 2000 (7.8*)This is one of those rare political dramas that can hold your interest until the end, like Advise and Consent and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. It came out in 2000, yet somehow seemed to ancitipate the campaign of Hillary Clinton, as it's a movie about the first female nominee for vice-president, played by Joan Allen with her usual professional and on-target performance. Jeff Bridges is perhaps the most amiable President put on film, young and with enough charisma that even his politics sound like homespun wisdom.

Allen's candidate is a Senator, Laine Hanson, and she's opposed by right-wing Republican senator played by Gary Oldman, who comes across as a neo-McCarthyite whose agenda is keeping women out of the White House; apparently it may be a personal feud with the President, a campaign holdover. Even though this film has attracted debate as being "too liberal", the opponents end up sounding a lot like Oldman's character, who was willing to stoop to just about any means, reminiscent of Nixon's "dirty tricks" campaign tactics. Funny how the patriotic films like The Right Stuff and Saving Private Ryan don't get attacked as "too right wing", but if you favor equal rights for women and minorities in life, somehow that's a "liberal agenda" instead of just basic human rights and part of the Constitution.

If people can watch this movie without their politics interfering, they might enjoy a finely crafted adult political thriller with top-notch performances all around.


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These are the individual film reviews of what I'm considering the best 1000 dvds available, whether they are films, miniseries, or live concerts. Rather than rush out all 1000 at once, I'm doing them over time to allow inclusion of new releases - in fact, 2008 has the most of any year so far, 30 titles in all; that was a very good year for films, one of the best ever.

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